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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
September 27, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:01 PM :: 3445 Views

Auditor: HTA oversight lax, internal controls deficient

Real Recycling: H-POWER continues to record high landfill diversion rates

Getting by with a little help from our friends

Aiona/Tupaʻi Calls for the Ige/Green Administration to Convene a Special Session

Lawsuit: DPS Arranged for Miske Witness to be Killed at OCCC -- Saw Fraser Tortured and Killed in Kalihi

CB: … In a Dec. 9, 2016 affidavit in support of a search warrant for a home in the 3200 block of Kalihi Street, FBI Special Agent Grant Knorr stated that an unnamed confidential source, referred to only as “CS2,” had been providing reliable information to the FBI for about a month. The information provided to that point had been corroborated by a variety of records, including “telephone records, criminal history records, prison records, social media, Department of Motor Vehicle Records, and data from Pen Registers,” Knorr said.

This source was providing information “because of fear for his/her safety and the safety of the community,” Knorr wrote.

Although neither this nor several related affidavits disclosed the identity of CS2, the description provided, including an offense profile that included unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, a Class C felony, and misdemeanor theft, suggest the source was James Borling-Salis, who was just 23 years old at the time of these meetings with the FBI. His identity was later confirmed to Civil Beat by a source with knowledge of the matter, who provided the information on the condition their name not be used because they are in a sensitive position.

Another cooperating witness described in the affidavit only as “CW3,” appears to be Borling-Salas’ grandmother, who accompanied him to meetings with federal investigators.

In December 2019, three years after his meetings with the FBI, Borling-Salas was being held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center for violations of the conditions of his parole. He was beaten and left for dead by a group of inmates. He died the following month.

His family believes he was killed for being a “snitch” suspected of providing information about Fraser’s death to law enforcement agencies, and a civil lawsuit has been filed against the Department of Public Safety and several individuals by Borling-Salis’ mother.

The lawsuit alleges Borling-Salis requested protection after being threatened for being a “snitch.” The lawsuit alleges the state was negligent in failing to protect him, and allowing him to be sent back into the general population after a period during which he was held in protective custody….

According to Borling-Salis, Smith and Bermudez lived in an upstairs unit of a house in Kalihi Valley. A rental agreement later obtained by the FBI listed Smith and three other people as tenants for a lease running from May 1 to Oct. 31, 2016.

HPD officers entered the house after the expiration of the lease, and the layout was consistent with the description provided by Borling-Salas. In addition, he later accompanied HPD officers to the house and was able to guide them to it.

According to the affidavit, Borling-Salas said he had visited the house on an unknown date, later estimated to be in late July or early August 2016, around the time of Fraser’s disappearance.

At that time, he “noticed another male individual in the outside bathroom underneath the stairs as he … approached the house,” the affidavit stated. “The individual had long hair and a scar on his face,” and was later recognized as Fraser after a Crimestoppers alert was broadcast.

“Fraser was tied to a green, plastic garden chair with zip-tie restraints and duct tape. Duct tape also covered Fraser’s mouth. Fraser had a bloodied face and Smith repeatedly kicked Fraser about the head,” according to the affidavit. Smith was a trained martial artist, and admitted to being paid to assault people when requested by Miske.

Smith and Bermudez then allegedly used a propane gas torch to burn Fraser.

“Smith and Bermudez started burning Fraser’s feet and hands,” and eventually “worked their way up Fraser’s body with the torch,” according to the affidavit. “While this was taking place, CS2 observed a tripod was set up and a phone was mounted to it. The phone recorded the torture as it occurred.”

Borling-Salas “was extremely disturbed” and left the house. He returned to the house “a few days later.”

“Smith explained that Miske wanted Fraser tortured as a repercussion for Miske’s son’s death,” according to the affidavit, and both Smith and Bermudez attempted to show Borling-Salas a video of the prior torture session which they had on their phones.

During that same visit, Borling-Salas said he saw Bermudez “in the kitchen tending to a very large pot cooking on the stove,” and he saw “a very large bone sticking out of the pot.”

He believed the bone to be human, and “presumed it was part of Fraser’s body, and that Fraser was dead,” the affidavit states…. 

read … Newly Unsealed Documents In Miske Case Tell A Grisly Tale Of Kidnap, Torture And Murder

State House has consensus for special legislative session on Hawaii Supreme Court ruling

SA: … The state House of Representatives has the consensus necessary to move forward with a special session of the Legislature to address the Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that preliminary hearings are not a lawful method for charging major felonies including murder.

In a letter to Senate President Ron Kouchi and all House members obtained by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, House Speaker Scott Saiki informed senators that over two-thirds of House members agree to convene a special session to address the State v. Obrero decision handed down by the Hawaii Supreme Court Sept. 8.

“I have asked Representative Mark Nakashima to work with Senator Karl Rhoads to jointly propose a bill that can be acted upon,” wrote Saiki. “Moreover, to minimize immediate impact of the Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision, the House proposes that the special session convene as soon as possible. I will forward a propose special session schedule for your review…The general public wants the Judiciary and the Legislature to resolve this matter. I will work with you and the Judiciary to determine the best course of action.”…

Kouchi told the Star-Advertiser in a statement this afternoon that now that the House has finally communicated an interest in convening a special session, he will formally re-engage with members to determine if the Senate also has the two-thirds majority needed to convene.

“Finding consensus with our House colleagues and the four county prosecutors on language for a proposed bill that will address the issues raised in State v. Obrero will be critical in determining our next steps,” said Kouchi….

read … State House has consensus for special legislative session on Hawaii Supreme Court ruling

Honolulu City Council Puts Controversial Land-Use Bill 10 On Hold Amid Criticism

CB: … A sweeping land-use bill that would affect thousands of properties on Oahu has been put on hold, possibly until next year.

The decision was made by Honolulu City Council member Brandon Elefante, chair of the zoning and planning committee, after the Department of Planning and Permitting said it needed 120 days to review the measure, which would move city council consideration into 2023.

The committee met in a special hearing Monday after being deluged with hundreds of comments from property owners raising concerns about Bill 10, with many pointing out potentially dire ramifications and plying officials with questions about why so few people knew about it until recently..,..

Kualoa Ranch said the bill would put them out of business. Owners of horse farms said it would undermine Hawaii’s paniolo culture by zoning horses off agricultural land. Locally based brewing companies said the bill would impose new hardships on them and make it harder for them to compete with beverages brewed on the mainland.

The bill, which was well along the way to passage until early this month, attracted much negative comment about how the city had handled the public notification process.

“These bureaucrats say they did outreach,” said Lynne Matusow. “We need to see a list of the many (their word) stakeholders, government agencies, consulting firms and developers who participated. How many is many? Meanwhile, the real people, those who will be affected daily, have not had any input.”…

The strongest supporters of Bill 10 in testimony to council were three development firms, including the Pacific Resource Partnership, Stanford Carr Development and Centre Urban Real Estate….

The bill has been under consideration for several years. Its development was orchestrated by the city’s chief land-use planner, Katia Balassiano.

An announcement last week indicated Balassiano was leaving her job at the city Department of Planning and Permitting, and at Monday’s meeting it was disclosed that she had found a new job at the State Land Use Commission…. 

SA: More time is needed to inform farmers about Bill 10

read … Honolulu City Council Puts Controversial Land-Use Bill On Hold Amid Criticism

EPA’s cultural input on TMT surprises

SA: … The political context of these remarks may provide some explanation. Under President Joe Biden, the EPA has launched a new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, with more than 200 staff members across 10 U.S. regions….

the agency’s TMT testimony notes executive orders from Biden directing federal agencies to advance equity and justice for communities such as Native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders.

But what’s critically missing in the EPA’s analysis so far is any acknowledgement of the steps taken already in this direction, or that Native Hawaiians themselves do not speak with one voice on the issue. There is considerable support for astronomy, and the TMT, among Hawaiians, too….

State lawmakers, trying to strike that precarious balance, last session established the Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority, which brings a range of perspectives to the debate; appointees have been nominated to its board….  

September 22, 2022: Consider TMT changes to lessen impact on Native Hawaiians, EPA urges

read … EPA’s cultural input on TMT surprises

Oahu rail emergency scenarios could provide another excuse to delay service

SA: … During its evaluation, HART has to meet a 30-day average score of 98.5% in various scenarios measuring all of its systems.

The HART board was told Friday by HART staff that 61 scenarios had been conducted, representing just under 39% of the scenarios.

The city’s rail project is scheduled to be the first in the country to be fully automated.

The evaluation involves five passenger trains running back and forth from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium on the planned revenue schedule of 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.

The HART board was told that other scenarios include “dealing with broken rail, sick passenger, platform screen gate fails to close, switch machine failure (and) … how to deal with a station when it is out of service with shuttle service and bus bridging.”

At the same time, separate engineering surveys are underway to determine the severity of hairline cracks discovered on a dozen or so “hammerhead” pillars that hold up the elevated guideway around five rail stations on the west side of the project.

The results of the survey — expected at the end of the month — will have to be verified by separate engineers from the city’s Department of Transportation Services and others hired by HART….

All of the engineers will have to agree on the extent of the damage and how to repair the cracks, Kahikina said previously…

read … Drills will test first responders with Oahu rail emergency scenarios

Cut off Water: Supreme Court Finds Another Way to Block Affordable Housing Construction

TGI: … The state Supreme Court turned the tables in the case between the Kaua‘i Department of Water and Kia‘i Wai O Wai‘ale‘ale last week, issuing a ruling in favor of the community group.

The 52-page, unanimous ruling reversed a series of Circuit Court judgments in favor of the DOW.

The case is centered around the environmental assessment for a proposed 9,000-foot, 18-inch water main which would increase water capacity for Grove Farm’s Lihu‘e area development. The project is a collaboration between the county and Grove Farm, with the corporation shouldering one third of the roughly $3 million in costs and DOW ratepayers covering the other two thirds….

read … Supreme Court: DOW study Flawed

Legislative Agenda: More Money to solve bed shortages at Hawaii hospitals

HNN: … Last year, funding for the hospital’s bed expansion project set aside by the state Legislature fell through.

It’s a $50 million ask that must be made again this session ― and Hilo’s far from the only hospital in need.

“They need help on Kauai. They need help on Maui. On both sides of the Big Island,” said Keohokalole.

He’s one of about a half dozen lawmakers who’ve been in recent communication with the hospital in an effort to address its healthcare crisis.

The senator says the pandemic put a spotlight on staffing and infrastructure challenges at all of Hawaii’s hospitals. It’s a problem he believes should be a top priority at the Legislature….

read … Crisis at Hilo Medical Center puts new spotlight on staffing, bed shortages at Hawaii hospitals

Hawaii Has A Shortage Of School Psychologists

CB: …Between 2015 and 2020, the percentage of teenagers who reported having a major depressive episode nearly doubled in the state, according to data analyzed by the National Association of State Boards of Education for the Hawaii Board of Education.

In 2020 — the most recent year data is available — 18.4% of teens in Hawaii reported struggling with depression, up from 9.9% just five years prior.

Despite the increase, Hawaii has just a fraction of the number of school psychologists recommended by national groups to help identify struggling students and get them on a path to academic success and mental wellbeing.

The National Association of School Psychologists currently recommends a ratio of one school psychologist for every 500 students. Last year, Hawaii employed 61 school psychologists — about one for every 2,800 students.

Unlike many school districts on the mainland that rely almost entirely on school counselors and school psychologists to address student behavior and mental health, Hawaii schools also employ nearly 300 behavioral health specialists, along with about 45 clinical psychologists who all work collaboratively to address student needs, a DOE spokesperson said in an email….

The Hawaii Association of School Psychologists has been calling for Hawaii lawmakers to create a licensing system for school psychologists for the last eight years.  Several bills to do that have been introduced, but failed to pass….

read … Hawaii Has A Shortage Of School Psychologists

Hundreds to sue feds over water contamination at Hawaii base

E&E: … Four plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the government in Hawaii District Court on Aug. 31, and Kristina Baehr, attorney for the plaintiffs, said she has more than 700 additional plaintiffs in the process of filing….

read … Hundreds to sue feds over water contamination at Hawaii base

Big Island resident harassed by aggressive group in Waipio Valley

KITV: … A Big Island resident, Valerie Goo told KITV4 she was harassed by an aggressive group of people as she was driving down to Waipio Valley this weekend.

She said it was her right to go into the valley but the group members called the police and said she was trespassing. She and her family left while they were at the beach….

read … Group of Waipio Valley residents stand outside access road asking people to turn around

Federal authorities seeing uptick in ghost gun seizures in Hawaii

KHON: … For Homeland Security Investigations, it’s not a matter of if, but when it’ll confiscate the next ghost gun. HSI said the seizures of these un-serialized and untraceable weapons are getting larger.

“Now we’re coming across 20 to 30 guns at a time,” said HSI Honolulu Special Agent in Charge John Tobon .

“They caught a 22 auto large suppressor, a 9mm and methamphetamine and that was just in his backpack,” said Logan. “When they went to his house, they found 23 additional firearms, handguns and other types of weapons or parts with suppressors.”

Over on the Valley Isle, Maui police have recovered 12 ghost guns as of Sept. 13. HSI is seeing ghost guns often accompanied by narcotics and in an alarming trend, popularity is growing among the youth….

read … Federal authorities seeing uptick in ghost gun seizures in Hawaii

Statewide Bankruptcies Increase In Hawaii

KITV: … High inflation and rising interest rates could be putting the squeeze on the pocket books of Hawaii residents.

For the first time in 16 months, statewide bankruptcies increased from the year-earlier period: with filings jumping 21.8% in August.

The 106 cases in August, marked the first time the bankruptcy filings reached triple digits after more than a year of fewer than 100 monthly filings….

read … Statewide Bankruptcies Increase In Hawaii

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